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Nutrition in the 1st year of life

In the first year of life, your baby needs a lot of attention as well as appropriate nutrition. Energy and nutrient requirements are particularly high during this phase of life. As the intestines have yet to develop, your child cannot yet eat solid food.

Mutter spielt mit Kind am Spielplatz

What kind of food does your baby need in the first year of life?

Specialist organisations recommend milk as a staple food for healthy babies in the first few months of life. You can give your infant milk in different ways at the beginning of life:

  • as breast milk through breastfeeding
  • through bottle feeding with the so-called Pre formula and the later Stage 1 formula
  • pumped breast milk via bottle feeding

All variants contain lactose, which is particularly important for the baby's development.

Why is breastfeeding so healthy? 

According to doctors and midwives, breastfeeding is the optimal form of nutrition. Breast milk is particularly easy to digest and contains many antibodies that can protect your baby from illness. It is recommended that only breastfeeding should take place in the first four to six months of life. In principle, however, every woman can decide for herself whether and for how long she wants to breastfeed. A combination of breastfeeding and bottle feeding is also possible and well tolerated by most infants. You should start feeding complementary foods such as porridge by the 7th month of life at the latest. Even then, you can continue to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby. Mother and child decide together how to breastfeed and when to stop breastfeeding.

What do you need to know about breastfeeding?

In principle, almost any woman can breastfeed if she wants to. Breastfeeding is only not possible in a few cases, for example if the mother is ill. For many women it is not always easy to breastfeed, especially at the beginning. Mother and baby first have to adjust to each other and practise breastfeeding together. Therefore, if possible, plan enough time and quiet in order to practise together. There are often not enough staff in maternity wards who can devote time to the individual care of mother and child. Therefore, a midwife can be a good source of support, visiting you at home and helping you get off to a good start with breastfeeding. It is best to inform yourself while you are still pregnant and prepare for breastfeeding. A birth preparation class or breastfeeding preparation with a midwife can be helpful.

Information on the following topics will help you prepare for breastfeeding:

  • milk intake after childbirth and physical changes in the mother
  • the baby's hunger cues and frequency of breastfeeding
  • tools to support the first breastfeeding
  • comfortable positions
  • breastfeeding discomfort and what you can do about it (e.g. nipple care)
  • support from your partner or other family members

Who can provide support for breastfeeding?

Mothers can get support with breastfeeding from midwives or breastfeeding counsellors. A midwife answers questions about breastfeeding before and after childbirth. In principle, you are entitled to a midwife for the period after birth, which is paid for by the health insurance scheme. In the first five days after giving birth, a health insurance provided midwife will visit you at home once a day. If you need additional support, you are entitled to up to seven further visits or consultations at the midwifery practice. You can organise this from the sixth day to the eighth week after giving birth.

The cost of breastfeeding counsellors varies and is not covered by the health insurance scheme. You can use the following link to search for a suitable breastfeeding counsellor: overview of breastfeeding counsellors in Vienna

Note: if you are breastfeeding and feel that you are producing a lot of milk, in Vienna, you can donate breast milk and receive a small sum in return. For premature and immature newborns, milk is a superfood. More information can be found on the website of Klinik Floridsdorf: Donate milk – Floridsdorf Human Milk Bank (Humanmilchbank)